Connecting to the RTL - instructions for Windows users

Connecting to the RTL is a two-step process. First you need to connect to the VPN, then you are able to connect to the RTL.

Remote Desktop Connection only allows one connection at a time to the RTL Windows machine. Fortunately disconnecting does not logout or otherwise interrupt the work. The next time the first user reconnects, they will find all their applications have continued running uninterrupted (see also: Logging out of the RTL).

Connect to the VPN using AnyConnect

Step 1

Double click on the desktop Cisco VPN icon, or search for "anyconnect' in the start menu.

Note that the old version 2 "Cisco Anyconnect VPN Client" has a green dumbbell icon while the current version 3 "Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility" has a white circle icon with 2 green arcs.

Under Windows 10, the search box is still in the lower left corner, now called “Cortana”.

Step 2

Make sure that the server name to the left of [Connect] is:

Step 3

The first time you connect, you could click on the gear icon in the lower left corner of the AnyConnect box, and uncheck the option “Minimize AnyConnect on VPN connect”, then close the preferences box.

Step 4

Click [Connect]; a login box pops up. 

Select group "rtl".

For passcode, enter your PopData passphrase (the one that works at


Step 5

If you did not change the preference item “minimize” above, the VPN window disappears when you are successfully connected. There will be a little lock icon in the bottom notification area on the taskbar, in the lower right corner.

Connecting through VPN to the RTL using the Remote Desktop (Windows 10)

Step 1

Make sure you are connected to our VPN (see above).

Check available RTL machines listed at:
Check which version of Remote Desktop is available on your computer. For Windows 10 (or 8), Microsoft offers two versions of Remote Desktop client: the older “Remote Desktop Connection” , and the newer “Remote Desktop”. Either will work, but connecting is very different. These are the instructions for the newer Remote Desktop.

Step 2

In the Cortana search bar, type “remote”. Look for “Remote Desktop Connection” under search results section “Best match” (icon is a tilted monitor with reflection on the screen); you might also find under section “Apps” the newer “Remote Desktop” (icon is a small blue square with straight monitor), if that was installed on your system from the Windows App Store.

The new version is described at

Step 3

Click on “+Add” to add a desktop shortcut; under “User account” you can click “+” to add one or more login names (ex: “POPDATA\testuser-12-345”, “POPDATA\testuser-23-456”). We recommend you leave the password blank, otherwise it will be stored on your hard drive.

Once connected, the top centre menu (+|...) offers zoom (x2 with scroll bars), and full-screen.

IMPORTANT: see below for how to log out.

Connecting through VPN to the RTL using the Remote Desktop Connection (Windows 7)

Step 1

Make sure you are connected to our VPN (see above).

In the start menu, search for Remote Desktop Connection.

Enter the name of an RTL machine listed as "available" at 

Step 2

If a message appears about "can't find computer" , your system may be one of those that prefers the long "fully-qualified" name for the remote computer: append "" (ex:

Step 3

Login to selected RTL server with your username and password. For example, if username is gwashington  the username will need to be entered as POPDATA\gwashington

Initially RDC offers its best guess for credentials (based on your local workstation), and usually decorates that guess with an orange daisy icon. For most people this guess will be wrong, and you need to click on “Use another account” to make the text entry boxes “User name” and “password” available. 

A fully-qualified Windows username starts with prefix domain “POPDATA” followed by backslash “\” followed by your username.

Upon connecting, after entering your password, a complaint may pop up "The identity of the remote computer cannot be verified" ; please click "Yes" to bypass this message. While the PopData VPN is connected, there is minimal risk of connecting to a bad machine in the Secure Research Environment, so you can ignore this warning.

Logging out

When you are done, make sure you LOG OUT.

Failure to log off blocks other researchers from accessing this RTL machine. Just closing the window disconnects without logging off. This is OK if you intend to let your program run for a while and reconnect later, perhaps from a different machine. Re-connect using the same procedure as for connecting. If for some reason you are unable to logout or to reconnect, ask for our help at <>.

Under Windows 10, the logout (Sign out) menu can be found next to the Cortana search box, its icon is a head-and-shoulders figure (an “o” above an inverted “U”).

Disconnecting from VPN after disconnecting from RTL Remote Desktop

You may prefer to disconnect "Cisco AnyConnect" whenever you stop your connection to the RTL. Click on AnyConnect icon or status window; click disconnect.

The PopData VPN connection does not interfere with your access to other parts of the Internet, including local computers around you, with two exceptions: DNS name resolution service is redirected to the PopData name-server (so connections to short names like "rtl4" go to ""), and connections from your computer to private PopData networks (under 10.50.*.*and 10.80.*.*) are routed through VPN server “”. There is a small chance that these two features may interfere with your access to other computers near you while VPN is connected.

If there is a network interruption (for example due to a weak WiFi signal, or your computer going to sleep), the Remote Desktop session may go into a confused state and refuse to let you reconnect for up to an hour. you can email and ask us to terminate the session, or to make the machine accept re-connections.

If you anticipate that your computer might go to sleep, it may worth disconnecting your Remote Desktop session and reconnecting later.